The Dark Artifices is a trilogy in the Shadowhunter universe, it is the third series written in this world. In order the books are; Lady Midnight, Lord of Shadows, Queen of Air and Darkness.
The Shadowhunter universe is full of so many amazing characters. If you're one of the readers who read it as the series were released then you're probably already family with the world. This is the third series released in the Shadowhunter world and is set 5 years after the events of The Mortal Instruments series.
However, if you haven't started yet then I know the number of books can be very overwhelming! I know starting is intimidating and no series is for everyone but I think the shadow hunter books are well worth reading.
I've added two different reading orders for you below that might help with understanding the order and making it easier to start.
The first order is the order in recommended by Cassandra Clare as it means reveals and character arcs tie into one another across series, plots, and timelines. However its does mix up series, personally I prefer to read one series at once, in which case I would recommend the second order which is in order of series release. And the third list is to give you an idea of how the series are set chronologically.
- kept as spoiler free as possible
The Dark Artifices is set five years after the events of The Mortal Instruments and focusses on the Blackthorn family who reside in the Los Angeles Institute. When I first started this series I have to say I wasn't very invested and whilst I enjoyed Lady Midnight (Book 1) it didn't grip me. However it did set up a lot of the plot and introduced a whole new set of characters. This was the same case I found for The Infernal Devices, where book one was a lot of set up and introduction but the rest of the series was amazing.
Unusually I found that I didn't connect much with the two 'main characters' Emma and Julian. Now I say main characters because they technically at the forefront of the series, especially so in Book 1, however as the series progressed the other characters were explored much further and I found their storylines so much more compelling. I thought the way this was done was excellent, Clare allowed the books to expand to focus heavily on all the characters giving them lots of attention rather than just focusing on Emma and Julien.
Cristina, Mark and Kieran were stand out characters for me. I absolutely loved them and their storyline was wonderfully done and then romance between them felt so beautiful and pure. The honesty of Faeries made their interactions all the more meaningful and intense because for the most part there was little miscommunication or arguing because they spoke their truths which was so refreshing! I loved the plot and Mark and Kieran and their complex relationship both with each other and with Faerie. Seeing this develop over the trilogy was one of my favourite parts. I loved seeing Mark become more confident and happy his place in the world and own his two selves.
The links with these characters and the Cold Peace (something introduced due to the events of The Mortal Instruments) was very well done and connected the plot together nicely. The plot of the series involved a lot of intricately woven storylines coming together, centering around the idea of a faction of Shadowhunters creating fear and hate, their bigotry and prejudice dividing them and how the grabs for power affected the shadowhunters and downworlders. It was intense and the hate I felt for some of the characters was so strong but I loved the plot and thought it was executed very well, Clare had an excellent way of building up to it all, bringing in familiar characters from other series as well as adding layer of other storylines. So much went on in each book and seeing it all come together in Queen of Air and Darkness was magic.
I loved that we got so many familiar characters popping up in this series - lots of characters from The Mortal Instruments! - and seeing how those characters were doing after the 5 years was amazing and made me so happy to see them building families and living their lives. The links between series is something really special I think. It is rare to have a world that has so many series attached to it and they take place in a variety of time periods which allow Clare to bring in so much history that, if you've read the other series, means a lot and makes so many moments special.
I also really liked that Clare brought in a lot of relevant topics and aspects - things that require a modern setting to explore fully, such as what it means to be transgender or autistic in a world that doesn't understand, as well as bringing in relationships that don't fit the expected mould. I thought she explored these things well and whilst they were present they weren't over emphasised or over exaggerated in an unrealistic way, these things were just fact and a part of the characters which I loved. There were a lot of different dynamics between characters, especially within the Blackthorn family. The family were the centerpiece of the whole series and they quickly became a favourite of mine, they were all so compelling and the love of family such a beautiful theme to have running through this series.
There is a lot more I could say but let me just leave you with the thought that I have loved every Shadowhunter series I have read. For me, the first book in the series is always full of set up and takes a little while to get though but the remainder of the series is epic and puts you through the ringer of emotions. It is such a complex and intricately linked world, and I can't help but love all the characters and get invested in all of their stories. It is a world well worth investing time into because if you love it then there are so many books to throw yourself into!
Reminder: This is a Young Adult series.